top of page
< Back

Purple Three-Awn

Aristida purpurea

In stock

1 gallon

Plant Care

Native region:

Local Native

Water needs:



Mature size:

Growth rate:

Full Sun



Flower color:

Flower season:


Cream; Purple; Red; Brown






Nectar pollinators:


Nighttime pollinators:


Rabbit resistant:


This is a compact perennial grass, growing erect to under a 3 feet in height. The flower plumes often assume a light brown to reddish-purple color attracting attention during the warm months. The fine-textured foliage ranges in color from green to blue. In the fall, the three long awns attached to each seed glow in the sunlight. It has a wide distribution, and can be found across the western two thirds of the United States, much of southern Canada and parts of northern Mexico. It is most abundant on the plains. In California it is found primarily from Mono County southwards, in desert, mountain and coastal habitats. It thrives in sunny, dry locations, preferring minimal irrigation. It reseeds prolifically if water is available. Works in both sandy and clay soils and tolerates poor and infertile soil.
Purple Three Awn does well in containers, along borders and in mass plantings to provide color and texture contrast to trees and shrubs. It is good for erosion control on banks and provides a root matrix for many wildflower species. Makes an attractive landscape grass that is a good substitute for invasive, non-native grasses.
Seeds are food for some songbirds. The plants provide nesting materials or habitat.

Growing Plants in the Desert — Important Information

The information presented here is, to the best of my knowledge, accurate and based on my research from reliable sources, observations I have made of plants growing in my, and other gardens I have visited, and observations of the plants in their native habitats. I would appreciate your feedback and experience to help me educate others! 


Cacti: In my experience, cacti are much happier in the filtered shade here in the low desert of the Coachella Valley. Colors are more vibrant and they bloom more profusely, especially the non-native varieties. If you pay attention to how our native barrel and beavertail opuntia grow in the wild, it is frequently tucked in the rocks under creosote or another shrub.


Light Requirements: I have found that in our desert (Sonoran/Colorado) “full sun” plants can take and appreciate the late afternoon filtered sun, especially in the hot summer months.

bottom of page